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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Alabama Gators

On the road at 0830, we left Torryea behind in the rain and headed towards an alligator ranch in Mississippi. Moving west, we ran into stopped traffic outside the little town of Ebro. Turned out to be for a bicycle race, so we just relaxed and waited twenty minutes for the last of the cyclists to pass by.  Half an hour after starting again it was raining so hard we pulled over to let the storm pass by. We hope the bicycle race was over before the storm catches them. While we were pulled over Beth noticed water dripping down the inside of the back window on the passenger side. This was disappointing because our dealer had supposedly fixed this in January.

After the rain let up, we joined I-10 and had an uneventful drive through drizzle to the Alabama Welcome Center where we picked up a state map.

A little over an hour later, we pulled into the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch and inquired about an airboat tour.

The Ranch is a part of the Harvest Hosts network which allows members to stay overnight for free in the expectation that they will patronize their business.

Captain Frog was just about ready to take another couple out and was happy to have two more aboard.
After supplying us with ear protection we headed towards a bayou in search of alligators.

It wasn't long at all before we sighted the first alligator. Or was it that he sighted us?

Not sure that marshmallows are nutritious alligator food, but Captain Frog tossed one if the water...

...and the gator didn't hesitate to gobble it down.

We spun and zoomed all over this bayou as our Captain demonstrated how versatile an airboat is in this kind of an environment.

He had a smile on his face as he showed off the capabilities of his craft. We enjoyed the ride and the opportunity to see wild alligators up close.

Back at the ranch we met lots more gators. This is where "nuisance" alligators end up when they are captured in southern neighborhoods.

A chain link fence separated them from us and allowed for some close-up photography without concern for becoming an alligator snack.

We were able to feel how smooth their skin is by holding a youngster. A rubber band temporarily secured its jaws.

We stayed until feeding time. These animals that looked like they were asleep showed how quickly they could move when chicken appeared.

After the gators had been fed, we settled in next to the airboat dock to cook our dinner. Captain Frog stopped on his way out and told us to check the windows before getting out of our van in the morning because gators have been known to crawl into the parking lot.

We thought of that as thunder and lightning drew closer and puddles began to grow in the parking lot.

As we did the evening conversion of the dining room into the bedroom Beth placed towels along the window sill to, hopefully, hold it through the night. We'll look for a hardware store tomorrow.

This was a fun, and different, way to learn about alligators.

PS  We don't plan to get out of the van before leaving in the morning.

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